Shenandoah U debuts two one-of-a-kind majors

To be competitive, universities need to offer high-tech majors that lead to careers

Shenandoah currently explores the human element within VR by tapping into storytelling and emotion. One of the ways the school does this is by using Shenandoah Conservatory acting students to serve as role players for VR videos.

Students, in collaboration with Shenandoah University’s history department and outside organizations, have recreated a 1960s Civil Rights-era lunch counter sit-in and the trial of pre-Civil War abolitionist John Brown using 360-degree VR video. They will also undertake a fully immersive VR project this spring. Through the Immersive VR Education partnership, students will build a virtual Independence Hall. Shenandoah history students and debate team members will then become avatars of the Founding Fathers to debate on a virtual stage within a re-creation of the 1787 Constitutional Convention.

Building careers in esports
The new Bachelor of Science in esports not only provides a general esports education, but also offers three tracks that students can choose from: esports management, esports coaching, and esports media and communication.

Shenandoah will also offer a minor in esports management, along with a minor and an online certificate in esports sports science.

Through the major, students can learn about esports consumerism, how to run an esports event, performance and physical training in esports, streaming esports, and coaching esports teams.
The esports industry is growing and is projected to be valued at $1.4 billion by 2020.

“The esports industry is one of the fastest-growing segments of the commercial entertainment industry and stands to become a billion-dollar industry by 2020,” says Joey Gawrysiak, Ph.D., associate professor and director of sport management and esports. “We are working to prepare students to enter this field as highly qualified individuals with a unique bachelor’s degree that will place them ahead of other people wishing to enter the field.”

Shenandoah’s varsity esports team, which started competition this year through the National Association of Collegiate Esports and will be separate from the major, has 30 team members playing five esports games, including Rocket League and Overwatch. Gawrysiak is currently recruiting for a varsity-level VR esports competition team.

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